Developing the path of scientific enquiry. Is scientific enquiry a path? Examination of the boundaries of methodology, measurement, reason, revelation. Is this a new alchemy? This blog is a companion to the book
The Path of Scientific Enquiry

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Science beyond Reason

Science and reason, being synonymous recently, has an interesting history. I have argued that Bacon schismed knowledge into reason and revelation - discussed in Hidden Axioms of Science, on the grounds of evidential knowledge and subjective knowledge. However since Bacon, scientific establishment has gradually eschewed revelation as a source of knowledge until recent times. For most scientists who work within the Newtonian paradigm (a term used by Fritjov Capra in the Turning Point - Capra discussed here and next blog), science is still basically particle-oriented and for these scientists the lynchpin of science is reason. For scientists who work within this paradigm experience that is not based in reason is often rejected. Typical of this is acupuncture. Since the Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor, acupuncture has been part of Chinese medicine. Over the years the effects of the chi flowing along channels or meridians has been seen as a measurement of health, and the use of needles to unblock chi has led to healing. When western science started to dominate medicine through slash and pill, acupuncture has been rejected as an effective medical treatment because it is not subject to reason. Discussed here.

Yet since Niels Bohr, science has investigated quantum space and accepted such illogical absurdities that it makes acupuncture seem completely rational. There is however no rational explanation for acupuncture unless you accept the existence of chi.

What about quantum computers? As discussed in this blog, quantum computers which have huge potential and are beginning to have practical application. Yet this application has at its basis absurdity - quantum superposition and quantum entanglement. Now although these observations are couched in scientific language, they are basically absurd:-

Superposition - one atom existing in two places
Entanglement - two photons existing apart with a connection that enables instantaneous transfer of data.

These absurd observations are at the basis of Zeilinger's work that he discusses here. Aaron O'Connell has described metal that vibrates and does not vibrate at the same time in this TED talk. I am only just beginning to investigate these quantum phenomena but a characteristic appears to be that they are absurd but observable. There is no rational explanation for these phenomena ("as yet" some scientists might argue), however science is working with them.

Science has accepted phenomena that appear absurd, that have no rational explanation, and has accepted sub-atomic behavior as being observable and of practical use eg quantum computers. Yet limited rational science is rejecting acupuncture with a record of millenia. These paradoxes ought to disturb every scientist, and ought to create disillusion and disenchantment with reason as the sole basis of science.

I described the path as:-

And I want to focus on insight here.

Insight can arise through meditation; Vipassana meditation is simply insight meditation. Buddhadasa talks of anapanasati - mindfulness of breathing, one result of his approach is insight. Buddhadasa also describes the following:-

Removing the I and mine from the 5 khandhas (as represented in the meme by the body and psyche as well as consciousness) allows for connection to sunnata, and one result can be insight. Reason is one of the khandhas, sankhara, included in the psyche in this meme. In other words insight can occur when we have removed I and mine from the psyche that includes reason in sankhara. I have discussed insight with many non-meditators and academics. Their inability to accept that there can be that which is beyond reason has prevented them from experiencing insight (amongst others). Insight (Archimedes Eureka for example) can arise beyond reason in the same way that quantum paradoxes can arise beyond reason - whatever rational work led up to the Eureka moment.

Whilst some of science still hides behind the words "quantum theory", phenomena such as the absurdities of superposition and entanglement can be used with beneficial result. Personally insights that I have experienced when beyond reason have application in daily life. Meditation, the stilling of the mind by following the breath or otherwise, can have huge personal benefits without apparent rational justification. Going beyond reason is now a legitimate scientific activity, ignoring meditation because we hold to reason is a limitation in much the same way as dismissing quantum realities. The dual state of science, quantum and reason, parallel the Buddhist understanding of khandhas and beyond. What an indictment of those who cling to reason and intellect!

Surely scientists have to have disillusion and disenchantment with a background that is purely based in reason if there is sufficient enquiry?? Surely??

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